The Challenge and Evaluation

“We recognize that our biggest asset within the company are our employees,” says Michael E. Drandell, CEO of Goldrich Kest and who has also worked for the company since 1995. “I look to our HR function as a way to keep happy employees because happy employees are productive employees, and productive employees are better for business.”

“We spend a lot of time, energy, and effort in order to find and keep our best employees,” Mike adds. “I want to keep them engaged and keep them developing, and I want them to have advancement opportunities within the company itself.”

Mike says he gets his inspiration from Goldrich Kest’s founders Jona Goldrich and Sol Kest, who started the business in 1957. “When Jona and Sol were alive, they were walking the halls all the time. When they passed away, the second generation wanted to provide that same attention, but no one is as hands on as Jona and Sol were.”

Goldrich Kest got its start in California but it now owns properties that span the country. That kind of growth creates opportunities, but it also introduces challenges. “Management by walking around” is tough when employees are scattered across the U.S. and beyond — but for Mike, Lattice came into the picture as a specific potential solution for one of his most-disliked HR activities: the annual review.

“There’s nothing I hate more than the annual review process,” Mike says. “What do anyone want to get out of an annual review? You want to tell your employee that they’re doing great, or they’re doing horribly, or they’re doing OK. And you want to tell them what they need to do better so that they can be a strong and productive member of the company.”

Mike says that in his experience, the annual review can be counterproductive, “tying people up” and preventing them from seeing the big picture of how they create value for the company. “My personal problem with it is when people use it as a checklist of things to do. Managers will ask, ‘Hey, did you get A, B, and C done this year?’ and employees can do the same thing, saying, ‘I completed X, Y, and Z.’” This kind of discussion can easily devolve into an unproductive battle between employee and manager over minutiae that ultimately has little bearing on how the business is operating.

“I want to move to answering the question:, ‘What does good performance need to look like?” says Mike. “What do you want to do to improve, and what are you looking for me to do to help you improve?”

Using Lattice at Goldrich Kest

Mike was introduced to Lattice by a member of his people team who had seen a demo and thought it would be a perfect fit for the employee engagement and culture-based initiatives the company wanted to pursue. But most importantly it offered a tantalizing alternative to the annual review process in the form of Lattice’s 1:1 feature, which the company most recently rolled out. 

“I wanted to see the annual review go away and become less of a hassle, whether that’s quarterly or more frequently, working as a check-in and verification that everything’s going okay for the employee and their supervisor,” he says. “If something needs to improve, then we can deal with what needs to be delivered.” 

Mike also wanted to move away from numerical ratings and questionnaires – “How does everybody deserve a 5 out 5? Everyone is not an exceptional worker.” The goal was to instead move toward a more qualitative analysis of how people were doing.

That’s where Lattice 1:1s have already begun to prove its worth for the company. “The 1:1 tool just allows you to have a conversation,” Mike says. “And you can use it to keep notes about things you need to talk about with an employee. I’ll use it to drop in notes about various people; that way I can remember it for a formal review down the line. That’s always important for me.”

The Impact of Lattice

Lattice has been a unique top-down rollout at Goldrich Kest, as Mike explains, starting with the CEO. “I’m the chief executive,” he says. “I’m using it. And I promote it to my executive team and director team for them to use with their own staff.” 

While GK is early in its implementation of Lattice as it trickles down from the C-suite, Mike says that it has already been effective at driving employee engagement and finding “soft spots” in employee behavior. “If you have an employee that’s doing a pretty good job but they’re irritated about something, the ability to have a 1:1, to have individualized goals, and to have feedback allows you to drill down into that issue – and then get out the mop and bucket to clean it up,” he says, “You don’t want employees to push any negative feelings down. You want those feelings to come up and be discussed with their supervisor. You want to be able to have the conversation around the problem. You need to have the difficult conversation that allows you to address the issues that are at hand. And that’s one of the things I like most about Lattice, because it forces me to do that.”

Looking ahead, Mike says that Goldrich Kest is now tapping Lattice to roll out individualized goals across the company to complement the company-wide goals and development initiatives. It’s an important process because not all employees have an obvious path to the company’s financial success. “How do you give somebody who’s, for example, a marketing person or a construction accountant a goal that helps drive the bottom line, that helps to improve the company?” he asks. “Those are the kinds of questions that we’re really looking forward to answering.”

Takeaways

  • Traditional annual reviews are an outdated concept at Goldrich Kest. The company uses Lattice 1:1s to enable a culture of continuous feedback, keep employees motivated and managers engaged on what matters to the business.
  • Lattice is bought in from the top down at Goldrich Kest, with the CEO leading by doing.
  • Goldrich Kest is looking forward to launching Goals to motivate everyone to contribute to the bottom line, not just prioritize personal advancement.

In the last four years, Kieran Mellott has led HR for Hub Australia and helped more than quadruple its employee base. Hub Australia is a premium workspace solutions company offering coworking offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra. With employees in five different states and three different time zones, Kieran and his team have their hands full trying to scale the company’s HR programs, build an employee-centric culture, and help the company double in size over the next two years. 

“Our people could work anywhere, but they choose to work at Hub. It’s our obligation to them as their HR team to make sure that they get the most out of their time here,” Whitney said, explaining the secret behind how their small-but-mighty HR team keeps up with Hub’s explosive growth. While a happy team leads to happy customers, Kieran and Whitney say this particularly true at Hub, where employees work side-by-side with their customers in the company’s co-working spaces. “If the people who run our communities are unhappy, that will definitely impact our member’s experiences,” explained Kieran. 

Like any fast-growing company, Hub Australia’s employee headcount quickly outgrew its HR processes and procedures. While company growth is a good problem to have, Kieran and Whitney quickly realized using Google Docs to track performance reviews and professional development conversations just weren’t going to cut it. 

To build a culture-first organization, the Hub HR team knew it was time to invest in the right software. Their list of “must-haves?” A way to support professional development, improve employee engagement, store goals, and empower managers to coach their team members. For Hub’s young team of ambitious employees, Whitney and Kieran needed a new, centralized system in place “to show our employees that we take their futures seriously.”

Using Lattice at Hub Australia

Lattice ticked all the boxes for the Hub Australia team. While Kieran and Whitney were most excited for employee engagement surveys, performance reviews, cascading goals, and praise, they were also surprised to see their managers loved Lattice’s 1:1 tool.

Initially, Kieran was hesitant to add the 1:1 tool to their Lattice instance as he didn’t want to overwhelm employees. Luckily, Whitney persuaded him to leave it as optional, while “not doing anything to actively promote the tool.” Much to the pair’s surprise, even without an internal push, managers logged over 200 1:1s in just a month. “It just snowballed. People use it as their organization tool and even access it on their phones to add a topic for a meeting so they don’t forget it for the following week,” said Kieran.

While Lattice’s seamless, intuitive design was what first attracted Kieran, he admits it was the people-science-backed approach that wowed him. “What was great about Lattice was that there was already science and research done around the methodologies and cadences of particular professional development areas. That was all set up for us. We just needed to slot ourselves into it,” he explained. 

Before Lattice, Hub had a #HubLove Slack channel on Slack for employees to recognize their peers doing above and beyond. “While it was being used a lot, that feedback wasn’t being captured in any way. If you wanted to refer back to it, you would have to scroll through all the hundreds of responses,” lamented Whitney. With Lattice’s Praise tool, employees could publicly acknowledge their colleagues both within Lattice and Slack. The #HubLove channel could live on and the company could continue to celebrate wins as a team. 

Impact of Lattice

Above all else, partnering with Lattice helped Hub’s HR team prove to employees that they were serious about individuals’ careers, engagement, and growth. “Lattice is a tool that’s solely dedicated to our people. I think our team really enjoyed that,” said Kieran. “As a company, Hub is only 10 years old, but the maturity of our business has really accelerated over the past four or five years. While that’s not solely because of HR, our resources have played a big part in that, and bringing on systems, like Lattice, has been hugely beneficial to that.”

With one centralized location for all their People Team needs, the Hub team has reaped the benefits of having a record of each of their employee’s journeys with the company. “Before, when managers would leave, all their coaching would walk out the door with them. When the new manager came on, we had no idea what the conversation was up until that point,” explained Whitney. “Now, it’s helpful to have a full set of data for each employee that is always readily available.”

The team has also seen the quality of 1:1 meetings improve. By creating shared agendas, taking notes, tracking action items, Hub managers can treat these meetings as more than just a status check-in. They can spend less time reviewing to-dos and more time discussing career goals and coaching their teams. It’s not just managers – Whitney and Kieran love Lattice’s 1:1 tool too. They can easily share updates and company news with managers, so they can make their teams aware of organizational change in a timely manner. That functionality is priceless in a fast-growing company like Hub, and allows its HR team to rest easy knowing they have help “ensuring the right message comes across at the right time.”

Since adopting Praise, 93% of Hub’s employees have received feedback. Plus, Hub’s HR team noticed that feedback has become more thoughtful and meaningful than it had been in the past. Instead of simply thanking a peer for fetching the team coffee, employees have begun sharing more tangible ways their colleagues embody Hub’s five company values. “People understand our company values a lot more in depth now, which was one of the most surprising benefits of Lattice,” explained Whitney. “Our values are not just buzzwords anymore. People understand what each of them means and how to live and breathe them through their roles.”

Within Lattice, managers no longer have to scroll through Slack to see if their direct reports received recognition. Every Hub manager can view all the praise an employee has received, allowing them to easily refer back to it come performance review time. Hub’s HR team even set up a Lattice alert that pings managers if they haven’t praised a direct report in over 90 days. This friendly reminder helps foster a culture of feedback and recognition while helping employees feel seen and appreciated every step of the way. 

With plans to double in size over the next few years, Kieran and Whitney’s team know there’s no shortage of work to be done. Luckily, they know they can rise to the occasion with Lattice’s help. “Whenever we’re embarking on something new — whether it’s developing a new policy or a new structure for development for our staff — Lattice is the first place that I go to figure out if we are on the right track.”

Takeaways

  • Partnering with Lattice helped prove Hub’s dedication to improving company culture and investing in employee experience.
  • 93% of Hub employees having already been recognized their peers via Lattice’s praise feature
  • Lattice’s 1:1 tool helped support managers and give them the skills they needed to have more meaningful career conversations with direct reports.
  • Lattice’s people-science-backed approach and expert resources provide the Hub team with the knowledge they need to grow their people strategy as the company scales.